Women's chess in India – myths and facts

by Nisha Mohota
5/2/2015 – A week ago Nigel Short unleashed a storm in the international press with his article on the gender difference in chess. Now one of India's top female players, IM Nisha Mohota, has thankfully taken it upon herself to describe the situation in her country – where chess is not very attractive for women players. Nisha tells us what can and must be done to alleviate an unfortunate situation.

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Women's chess in India — myths and facts

West Bengal got its first grandmaster (GM) in the form of Dibyendu Barua in the year 1991. However the state had to wait twelve more years before it got its first Woman Grandmaster (WGM) – I became the first WGM of Bengal in 2003. Mary Ann Gomes became a WGM in 2008. Today Bengal has six GMs but only two WGMs. Mary and I are eagerly waiting for the next WGM from our state.

Nisha Mohota, the author of this article, and Mary Ann Gomes,
three times Indian National Women Chess Champion

What is it that stops young girls from taking up chess in our state and also in the rest of India? Why is it that in an open chess tournament the participation of female players can be counted on our fingers? Why do young, talented girls drop out of chess at a young age and enter into academics? For this we need to understand some facts about chess and the problems faced by women players.

The myth goes that chess is only a mind game. Physical fitness does not count. However, this is far from truth. Yes, chess is a mental gym. One has to use full mental energy to fight out the battle on the chess board. But is mental strength and intellect enough? No. Most of you will be surprised to hear that chess requires complete physical fitness. Physical stamina and strength are essential for proper functioning of the brain during the five to six stressful hours that one has to sit at the chess board. No wonder World Champion Magnus Carlsen plays football or goes to a gym to ‘relax’ on rest days during chess tournaments!

As of today, men play chess better than women. But does that mean they are more intelligent? No. In academics, girls have proved themselves to be as good as or even better than boys. So, what makes chess different? First of all we must agree that nature has made men and women different. Let’s respect each others’ differences. We can see the difference between a girl and a boy from early childhood. When young boys meet, they love to push each other, fight – this is all fun for them. Ever noticed how young girls behave when they meet each other? They make each other comfortable, smile, laugh, talk, but they normally do not indulge in physical fight. So we see that the fighting spirit required in the game of chess comes naturally to men whereas the peaceful women have to go the extra mile to inculcate this fighting spirit in themselves.

Women always make each other comfortable: Swati Ghate, Soumya Swaminathan, Mary Ann Gomes

There is a theory that women are inborn nurturers. Nature has made women very soft and caring. However, every woman chess player knows that she has to become tough to excel in chess. They say chess is a gentleman’s game. Yes, chess players are very good human beings off the board, but trust me, a very average human being cannot excel at chess. One has to be extra sharp and clever on the board, one has to be a bad guy on the board – completely ruthless. Most male players have two personalities: they are a great human being off the board, complete gentlemen, but on the board they do not spare anyone. Normal women find it difficult to keep double standards. They always have soft corners for people and being ruthless doesn’t come naturally to them. So we see that a girl has to develop instincts which are not natural to her. She has to make extra efforts to develop that killer instinct which a boy has very early on, and he mingles in similar company. Do I mean to say that women cannot develop these qualities to play good chess? Of course they can, but they do so with effort, acting against what nature has made them. These are the characteristic traits which make girls different from boys from an early age.

People often ask me: “Why are there less women chess players compared to men?” For this one needs to understand the problems faced by women.

India’s National Women Chess Champion, Padmini Rout, (above middle, flanked by Mary Ann Gomes
and Nisha Mohota) feels that travelling and training are issues for young girls.
Padmini has very recently started travelling alone and her parents are updated by phone.

Problems faced by parents: the biggest problem faced by women chess players is travel. Due to societal conditions in India, girls cannot travel alone to tournaments. It is unsafe. A parent always has to accompany her. The parents of a male chess player normally let the kid out alone very early, but the parents of a girl feel insecure about leaving their daughters alone in this cruel world. Young girls miss a lot of opportunities because they cannot travel alone. I have seen that most parents accompany their daughters to tournaments. This adds to their financial burden. All of us have seen India’s best woman player Koneru Humpy always accompanied by her father.

India’s highest rated female player GM Humpy Koneru
with her father Ashok Koneru [picture Sportstar magazine]

The other serious problem faced by parents of a girl child is the problem of coaching. For a young girl to take coaching from outsiders is definitely not easy, so it is normally the immediate family member who takes care of her training. India’s first WGM, S. Vijayalakshmi, India’s best woman player Koneru Humpy and I have all been coached by our fathers. But not everyone’s parents know chess. There are almost no women coaches because after an active career a woman feels the need to care for her family, and this she feels is more important than status or money. Safety and security is always an issue when inviting male coaches, adding to the problems of the parents.

A moving photo in one of India’s leading newspapesr, The Hindu, after Vijayalakshmi
became India’s first WGM
. Viji’s late father was her only coach throughout her career.

When the parents of a girl child bring up their daughters in spite of the many problems, they still do not get their due respect from the chess fraternity for their contribution.

Differences in prize money: the prize money in women’s tournaments is always less than the same in men’s tournaments, whereas the expenses connected to a female chess player is double. Is this not a big burden on the parents? Take for example my very own state. There are cash prizes in State Championship for men whereas only mementos are awarded in State Women Championships. Did someone say playing chess does not require money? Trust me, it is one of the costliest sports today – huge expenses in coaching, travelling, hotels, not to mention participation in international tournaments. In fact, coaching expenses for chess are almost the same as tennis! However we still continue to believe that chess is one of the most economical sports around.

Nisha with India's upcoming youngster Ivana Maria Furtado, who is also always accompanied by dad

Jobs: being a sportsperson in India has become quite a privilege in the past few years, as the government and Public Sector Undertakings have warmed up to us in a huge way. Besides the Government of India, many PSUs and banks have started recruiting elite level sportspersons as employees in the last threedecades , as an encouragement to sports in our society. This served as a huge boost towards our careers, and Indian chess has been booming over the years! However, in recent times the number of players inducted by companies has grown smaller and smaller, and if we have to talk about top women players who have been recruited in the past decade – the numbers are quite insignificant! I wonder why women chess players are being discriminated against when it comes to sports recruitments, when in fact India is in the top ten countries in the world in women’s chess!

One of India’s top women players, Tania Sachdev, recruited by Air India

Health, stamina, energy level: men are physically stronger than women. Women have less stamina which is an essential component in a long chess game. Women have health issues every month which brings unpleasant moments for most women and makes things very difficult for them.

Societal norms and caring attitude: Indian society has laid down rules about how a woman should be. She has to be very careful right from early childhood about what she does, what she wears, how she talks, literally every step by her is carefully watched by family and society. She is always careful about the dos and don’ts, thus curbing her carefree attitude and making her cautious at every step. Men never have to think twice about what they are doing in public places. If there are any issues between a man and a woman, it is always the woman who is considered at fault. Women are also very caring. Most young girls help their mothers in some way or the other in household work. Boys are normally able to use that time to focus on their careers.

Former World Junior Girls Champion, Soumya Swaminathan is one of the best souls that I have met!
She feels that in Indian society men and women should take equal household responsibilities.

Marriage, society, career, role models: every teenager starts thinking about career and future life when he or she is finishing school, around the age of fifteen. A girl foresees herself married at around 25 years of age. She understands that after marriage she will need a break from her active career for minimum three years: one year during childbirth and the next two years when the child really needs the mother. Making a comeback in a professional world such as chess, where like in science every day new discoveries take place, is extremely difficult. In addition a child almost always needs its mother more than the father, so leaving the kid alone at home is difficult and worrisome for the mother at any stage. For anyone who does not still understand my point of view, I would recommend the movie Mary Kom, which shows the struggle of a great Indian sportswoman. So, early in her teens, a girl understands that after all the hardships she will go through for success in her career, her future will still be very insecure.

Mary Kom, the great Indian boxer whose achievements are
a big inspiration for women players of any sport

One of my coaches, Evgeny Vladimirov used to say that a man is in the peak of his career in his 30s when he is married and settled and can completely focus on his career. For a woman, it is just the opposite: time to pack up at 25! No man wants his wife to be out of their home for days to pursue her professional career. In India, marriage and childbirth are considered a woman’s responsibility. Women are still seen as the ones who provide an anchor to the men in their lives, make the house a home and raise a family.When a man goes out to play in his tournaments, his wife packs his bag and assures him that everything at home will be taken care of. On the other hand, when a woman goes out to play in tournaments, she plans in advance for things at home before she leaves. Thus, a woman has to be efficient both at home and in her profession too.

WGM Swati Ghate is a perfect Indian example of a successful chess player who balances her personal and professional life. Her five-year-old son, Aryan, always wants his ‘Aai’ (Marathi word for mother) around. Her husband, Amit, is very supportive and takes care of him when Swati goes for chess tournaments.

All these factors are scary for a teenage girl. She sees an extremely difficult life after a certain age: too many challenges, too little opportunity. It makes a talented girl think “Is it all worth it?” This is the reason for high dropout rates among female chess players at an early age. Very few women decide to remain tough and withstand all problems. Their minority makes it easier for the male gatekeepers to downplay them every time. Thus, young girls fail to find a role model for themselves. When I started playing chess in 1988, there were no WGMs in India. I had to pursue a dream to reach something no one had reached before. It is easier for a young girl to see a role model and visualise herself there after a few years.

GM Harika Dronavalli, who won the World Junior Chess Championship in 2008,
receiving the bronze medal at the FIDE Grand Prix, Sharjah, 2014

Fighting out the men: in an open tournament there is a 10-90 ratio of participation of women to men. The ten women have to compete with the 90 men. If ten men out of 90 do better than the women, the other 80 also think that they are better than the women. Due to one Carlsen, every boy claims to be a Carlsen! At present male chess players are stronger and more numerous than women. But instead of developing a superiority complex, if they see this as an opportunity to encourage women players to do better and compete with them on an equal level, it will greatly benefit women’s chess. There is disparity in prize money and conditions for women in open tournaments. The women prizes are ridiculously low, as if mocking the women. Grandmasters are given pocket allowance and often five-star accommodation, whereas women are made to stay in simple hotels, sometimes even unhygienic ones. No wonder the participation of women in open tournaments is becoming less every day.

IM Eesha Karavade fighting it out against male opponents in an international open tournament

Anything which is rare is precious: women players who fight out in the world and make many sacrifices in their personal lives are rare. They should be treated as precious and with respect. It is time that men change their outlook towards women. If women had the same physical strength of men, minus the female complications, I am more than sure that they could be better in chess. Women are not mentally incompetent, they just have other issues which must be respected. Encourage the women players by making the prize money at par with the ones for men’s tournament, provide good conditions so that there is a 50-50 ratio in all tournaments, and then let us compare results. If not for the woman who brought you up with care, you wouldn’t be a wonderful human being, so open your eyes to the problems of women and treat them respectfully!

Pictures by Amruta Mokal and others


Thanks for the contributions from my Woman Grandmaster friends of India who have struggled their way to success and have brought many laurels for our country.

About the author

Nisha Mohata

Nisha Mohota, born on October 13, 1980 in Hinganghat, Maharashtra, started playing chess at the age of seven. During the 1995 Women's Zonals in Chennai she earned the WIM title, at the age of 14 years 6 months and 13 days. This record of youngest ever WIM in India was only broken by Koneru Humpy in 1999. In August 2003 she became India's fourth WGM – after Vijayalakshmi, Humpy and Aarthie Ramaswamy. Since February 2011 Nisha is a full International Master. Her highest ever Elo rating was 2416 (in October 2007).

Nisha Mohota became India’s youngest WIM in 1995 and India’s fourth WGM in 2003. Since February 2011 she has been a full IM – her highest ever Elo rating was 2416. She has represented India in 25 countries, playing for India in the 2004, 2008 and 2010 Olympiads. Her first love, chess, helps her continue her other passion: writing, photography and travelling.


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carolina_sander carolina_sander 6/15/2017 04:17
This is one game I love to play. I have heard somehow of how these women play so well. They are fantastic! By the way, I would also like to share this new fake sonogram videos from fakeababy. The best for gags. It is so funny. Check this out now.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 5/7/2015 03:44
Nigel was correct, of course..
One could alleviate any social pressures not to play chess that girls allegedly have. One could give women extra incentives. It just would not matter. The top chess players will always be men. Just as are the top scientists and mathematicians...just as the right most part of the Bell curve for IQ is occupied by men.
Aighearach Aighearach 5/4/2015 09:41
The problem with all these chess geniuses blathering about the "differences" between men and women is that they are complete ignorant morons when it comes to the genetic distribution of traits in the species. Of _course_ they spout nonsense based on tautology, what else could they cite? To be at a high level in chess means sacrificing the rest of your life. That doesn't mean just the family sacrifices, it also means sacrificing having a broad mind and a balanced intellectual life.

The average difference between genders on any trait is _smaller_ than the average difference between individuals. A lot of people don't understand that statement. But it is true even for traits where people presume a large difference between the sexes. For example, even breast size, the average difference between individuals is larger than the average difference between genders. So while there are clear differences between the aggregate averages of men and women, it doesn't actually help you predict the chess performance of an individual. Or even their breast size relative to their opponent.

In this context of statistical ignorance, tautology, and traditional idiocies, the more important thing is, are you being constructive? I hear a lot of men say negative things about women's chess that are not constructive, and don't have value. And women too. For example, men complaining that are women-only tournaments. You never heard of the problems between genders, perhaps? Not a credible excuse? OK so don't complain. There is very little money going to women's chess, there are so few events with such low prize funds, it is absurd to claim it is taking away from open chess. For women, there is the idiocy of complaining that women's chess has lower prize funds than open chess. There is no such thing as men's chess, for men there is only open chess that has players of all genders. So this is actually an insulting complaint, both to the men and the women. You can't compare the prize funds unless it is apples and apples, and it isn't. A special "men-only" tournament would not get a lot of support or interest, and would have low prizes. The open tournaments will always have the higher prizes.

(I use "open tournament" to mean open to all genders, not in the sense of open vs closed invitational)
KandiRavi KandiRavi 5/4/2015 10:58
Good article. Congrats !!
Derek880 Derek880 5/4/2015 09:15
I find many of the women's games to be more entertaining than the men's games. The don't play for quick draws as often, and as a result, you see a lot of decisive games. You also usually see many fighting openings that the men rarely try, such as the Dutch and some wild Benonis. Not a lot of stale English openings and exchange Slavs and QGDs. Though these do occur from time to time.
Reason Reason 5/3/2015 07:07
I have been coaching women for 30 years. When it comes to playing chess they are every bit as competitive and aggressive (over the board) as men. Their desire to win is huge and at least during the game they hate their opponents' guts (sometimes even after the game). So that's not the problem. It's also not the intelligence, studies show that the average IQ of very strong players is only around 120-130 (high but not exceptional).
The real problem is that in order to become extremely good at chess (2600+ level) one has to focus on chess exclusively, at the expense of everything else. A small percentage of men and almost no women are capable of devoting themselves totally to one narrow field (be it chess, math, composing, stamp collecting or anything else). That's explained by the differences in brain anatomy and physiology between the sexes. That is why at the very top of all human activities we find a huge proportion of males and only very few women outliers, such as Polgar (who was basically forced from a very early age to work on her chess all day long).
GrayDuck GrayDuck 5/3/2015 06:37
This was a good article.
HarryHaller HarryHaller 5/3/2015 06:13
Complaints about prize money from women are absurd. There are no "men's" tournaments - there are tournaments which are open to both sexes and women's tournaments. In some open tournaments, there are additional prizes which are only for women. Female players, at EVERY level make vastly more than their male counterparts. Miss Mohota makes far more than male players with her rating, from any country, and she knows that. It is shameful for her to ask for even more preferential treatment. If there are issues within Indian society which prevent a girl from taking up chess in the first place then they should be addressed, but the answer it not more discriminatory prizes for women.
Hasiholan Hasiholan 5/3/2015 02:15
Great article ever!
chessdrummer chessdrummer 5/3/2015 01:25
psamant... interesting!! I agree with your line of reasoning. Your own private case of twins may be the strongest proof. In fact I read an article where someone proposed tracking 20 sets of twins in chess (boy and girl) to see the difference. Well... we have a good case in your family. I may want to have a discussion with you in more detail.

chessdrummer chessdrummer 5/3/2015 01:17
James Satrapa... of course I know the Polgar story. I have been involved with chess for almost 40 years and the last 14 as a chess journalist. Judit was my favorite player all the way up to the time she retired and I know Susan Polgar personally. It was purely a rhetorical question.

"What has Polgar done that others have not?" That means if Judit Polgar can reach the highest levels of chess, have a family and compensate for other differences mentioned between genders, then why have not other women done it?

However, I do think differences in men and women are clear. We can't deny that psychology and the manner in which we look at competition, rivalry and war differs between the sexes. Nisha has admitted as much. Boys, from an early age, have a tendency to want to fight and compete while girls have a tendency to want to "make nice". Boys and men take games and gaming to the extreme levels which is why you see such disparities across the board in all types of games and sports. This argument is not about intelligence or academics which is not a one-on-one pursuit of "seek and destroy" mission as you have in sports. Women do well and yes can make good warriors. No one is saying they cannot be good chess players or good warriors. The question is why women (in general) have less propensity to stay with a game like chess and become stronger players?

There are certainly social and environmental factors, but also some biological factors as well. If it were merely social and environmental factors, it still does not account for the disparity. Males and females are psychologically different and have a different outlook on social relations and activities from a very early in life. This is very true in the animal kingdom of which humans are a part. Given these differences, how do we manage to make adjustments in the chess environment to accommodate girls/women to realize their potential?
Ashley T Ashley T 5/3/2015 09:13
Great article. I agree, also one of our big BC tournaments gives out a very embarrassingly low prize to 1st Women when compared to 1st for all the other groups. Prize money is not important, well not right now it isn't, but this is disrespectful to female chess players.
James Satrapa James Satrapa 5/3/2015 08:02

Yes but Nigel Short doesn't even attempt to understand the disparity, his few and spurious arguments being unsupported by any evidence outside of tautology.
psamant psamant 5/3/2015 07:48
I read the complete article by Nigel Short and then this one. Nigel likes to provoke while Nisha's tone here is placating and consensus building. So, Nigel received a lot of brickbats (I guess he aimed for that!) while all the comments here are appreciative. But, I found that both seem to make the same points!!! Both seem to accept that there is an innate difference in the sexes - learning the killer instinct, competitiveness, etc. that Nisha also mentions is something extra that women have to do.
The core question is - are the innate differences resulting in a situation at the very very top where women cannot compete with men in chess?
I have twins - a boy and a girl - they are just seven years old now and have lived together, studied in the same classes till now, done the same sports (including physical sports like soccer, swimming, skating, etc.). I agree with Nisha. There seems to be an inborn difference, a tendency for girls to be more social and emotional which may not be advantageous in chess; rather they may be a disadvantage. Boys tend to be competitive and have a liking for 'war games' which may have some advantages when it comes to chess.
James Satrapa James Satrapa 5/3/2015 06:42
@ chessdrummer: you mentioned that 'Nevertheless, Judit had a long and successful career and has a family. What did she do that other women have not been able to do? "

Judit's story, and those of her sisters is well known in chess and beyond. Her parents, in particular her father Laszlo, raised her and her sisters to be geniuses, and as it happened, to be geniuses in chess. Ten years ago, Psychology today published an article titled "The Grandmaster Experiment" that was written about the Polgars, and IMO is worth reading: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200506/the-grandmaster-experiment?collection=10082

You also commented that: "If "killer instinct" is indeed innate, then there is not much women will be able to do to match the "killer instinct" of a man. "

I'm not sure its innate with men either, as I think the notion of a "killer ape" has been well and truly refuted. I think the point is that the so-called killer instinct is learned, and at an early age far more by males, in whom the traditional expectations in most cultures are very different from those invested in women. The extent or otherwise to which this is innate is no doubt subject to the ebb and flow of the eternal "Nature vs Nurture' debate. Women do fine academically, and they have often made deadly warriors.

The systemic differences in chess lead me to think that cultural and environmental factors are much more insidious that I previously supposed, which is one reason I found Mohota's article interesting and illuminating.
genem genem 5/3/2015 04:46
"the prize money in women’s tournaments "is always less than the same in men’s tournaments"
---- There are "women-only" tournaments; but are there really "men-only" tournaments?
"Indian society has laid down rules about how a woman should be. She has to be very careful right from early childhood about what she does, what she wears, how she talks, literally every step by her is carefully watched by family and society."
---- Today half of the people doing the harsh judging of young women in India are the older women of India. Tomorrow when today's young women will be older, how will they judge the new younger generation of women? Perhaps change for women must start with women.
"coaching expenses for chess are almost the same as tennis! However we still continue to believe that chess is one of the most economical sports around."
---- Indeed this is a common misconception.
"One of my coaches, Evgeny Vladimirov used to say that a man is in the peak of his career in his 30s when he is married and settled and can completely focus on his career. For a woman, it is just the opposite: time to pack up at 25!"
---- Seems true tendency around the whole world.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 5/3/2015 02:39
James Satrapa... not only has Carlsen said women lack "killer instinct" but both IM Elisabeth Paehtz and GM Irina Krush has used these exact words. In fact, many women have made comments about women's chess that paint it in unflattering ways.

Girls may have to make an extra effort given the reasons she states in the different socialization of boys (fighters) and girls (nurturers). However girls and said to mature quicker than boys, so it would reason that girls would be able to gain other traits with maturity. If "killer instinct" is indeed innate, then there is not much women will be able to do to match the "killer instinct" of a man. However, they can compensate in other ways. The question remains, how did Judit Polgar compensate for perhaps less "killer instinct". She certainly seemed to have killer instinct to me and was my favorite player for this reason.
James Satrapa James Satrapa 5/3/2015 02:12
Great article by Nisha Mohota. She makes the comment (amongst many other very good ones!) that "[a girl] has to make extra efforts to develop that killer instinct which a boy has very early on, and he mingles in similar company. " Carlsen himself has commented that generally women lack (don't engage with) the killer instinct so important in chess.

Beyond that, most of the problems she identifies are more or less similar to those in the West, although not with quite the same force as in India.
chessdrummer chessdrummer 5/3/2015 01:10
I've always admired the Indian national players and have interviewed many. I believe IM Nisha makes some good points however, I have a different take on a few areas.

For clarification, there are no men's tournaments or men's prizes. There are open tournaments with prizes available for everyone and women can compete in them with men. If there is a women's prize, it is extra and a woman can compete for both. The fact that there are women's tournaments (and prizes) means that they are held in ADDITION to the open tournaments and are supplements. Supplementary tournaments will not be equal to large open tournaments where both sexes can compete.

Grandmasters are given conditions because they are professionals at the top of their field. Judit Polgar also got conditions. Why? Simply because she was one of the world's top players. The low numbers of women players had nothing to do with Polgar's rise in chess. In fact it is not significant reason to explain the gap. Judit rose because she was extremely talented, worked hard and played the strongest competition. She did what 2700s did to reach that level.

Most professional women players have a paradox... play in the more stable women's circuit, get conditions and better chance for prizes, or play in more open tournaments against stronger players, improve ELO, earn norms for full titles, but no conditions and less chance for prizes. Understandably, most women players choose women's tournaments. Judit did not. It is a tough decision, but again... chess is a hard living for everyone, male or female. Except if you are a top 20 player. Nevertheless, Judit had a long and successful career and has a family. What did she do that other women have not been able to do?
karavamudan karavamudan 5/2/2015 06:33
ALL BS. I have played blitz and some players with female names (Kate etc.) who have simply bull dozed over me.

The female of the species is always deadlier than the male.

At least in chess everything boils to talent and mathematically it is probable a girl child may take to chess and defeat Carlsen. I hope that girl comes from India

babycroc babycroc 5/2/2015 05:52
The main difference between male and female chess players is that female players have provocative dimples. The rest is statistics.
eltollo eltollo 5/2/2015 04:52
Men with a 2400 rating cannot leave on chess either, even worse, for them there are no special prices like for women.
This being said, the article gives an inside picture on the role of women in Indian society, which is very informative for this European guy who has never visited India.
X iLeon aka DMG X iLeon aka DMG 5/2/2015 04:48
The gender issue is so heated that it causes a whole bunch of misunderstandings to arise from all sides whenever one touches upon it. Nigel had some interesting points and some clear misses, this here article also raises interesting points - not surprising ones though. Physical stamina? Male competitiveness? I think unless you are completely ignorant about chess and human nature, these are obvious points! They are also dangerously generalising. We need to always be aware of individual differences, rather than blindly allocating an individual's personal qualities based on a gender umbrella. One point I would like to stress, however, is Intelligence! People toss the term back and forth without any deep understanding of what it means! Does being really good at chess mean you are super-intelligent? Absolutely not! Sure you have some strong mental functions which may include specific memory attributes, pattern recognition, analytical qualities and offcourse certain character traits such as competitiveness, resoluteness and persistence. But that means nothing more. In terms of "intelligence" (whatever that means to people - I have my own continuously evolving definition which would take too much space) a chess champion may be just above average. And an ingenious mind may be absolutely poor at chess. In short, being good at chess means mainly one thing: being good at chess! So lets not confuse intelligence and turn it into a Hollywood cliché, where you have the smart guy, hero or villain, playing amazing chess as proof of her/his intelligence. This is not Blade Runner, amazing though that movie may be - this is real life where things tend to be a little richer than such simplistic cliches imply...